Beethoven, Chopin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Chopin
LABELS: Music & Arts
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B flat, Op. 22; Piano Sonata in A flat. Op. 26
PERFORMER: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 1036 AAD
When Gilels died, in 1985, he left incomplete the projected set of the Beethoven sonatas he was making for DG. Sadly, one sonata he had not recorded was the sublime, final Op. Ill, but he had the right coolness for the late works on this disc. Objective rather than emotional, he found plenty of variety in the music, thought in long phrases, and had impeccable control. His interpretations were always architecturally convincing.

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Richter is introspective, imaginative, sometimes erratic. He has a commanding authority and an unbelievably wide dynamic range. Every semiquaver is clear, with perfect balance between the hands. Listen to the forceful fortissimos and consolatory responses in the C major Sonata’s Adagio, and to the breakneck finale, easing gently into its second episode (track 4, 1:25 mins) and ending in an outburst of passion.

Michelangeli was a puzzle -endowed with superhuman technique, but not always reliable interpretatively. In the slow movements, in particular, he tended to destroy the flow with fussy rubato, and he had an irritating habit of putting his left hand down before his right. The Trio section of the Chopin ‘Marche funebre’ sounds as if the melody line was recorded a microsecond later than the accompaniment, though he finds a depth in this march that eludes him in the corresponding movement of Beethoven’s Op. 26.

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But be warned. Owing to a faulty transfer, the last movement of Michelangeli’s Op. 22 (track 4) starts halfway through the 22nd bar, missing out the first statement of the rondo theme. Wadham Sutton